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Holabird Western Americana Collections’ five-day Autumn Splendor Western Americana Auction, held October 28th-November 1st, contained over 3,200 lots of Americana, railroadiana, mining collectibles, numismatics, stock certificates, rare books, art and more, online and live in the Reno gallery. By the time it was all over, the auction had grossed about $500,000.
The massive sale featured several important collections, beginning with the Stuart “Scotty” MacKenzie Montana collection. Stuart was a lawyer, inveterate collector and dealer. He scoured the backroads of northern Montana looking for documents, archives, company files, libraries, correspondence and more – most anything historical except for bottles and tokens.
In another major collection, Shirley Bovis was a mainstay in Tombstone, Arizona – an avid collector and part-time dealer. She bought longtime Tombstone dealer Joe Soebbing’s adobe in the middle of town and turned part of it into a museum. Her collection of gambling items, saloon, cowboy, Native American – pretty much everything Tombstone – was in the auction.
More of the Ken Prag collection was also featured. “We picked up another large group of cards and stocks from Ken and had to move at warp speed to process it all,” said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections. “It included a large batch of California postcards, plus rare autograph stocks, including American Express, Wells Fargo, Robert Morris and others.”
Day 1, on Thursday, October 28th, featured General Americana, led by Alaska and Wyoming collectibles and Part 1 of the MacKenzie Montana collection; bottles, saloon and cigar items; marbles and toys. Sold that day was a nearly complete pair of 1920s-era Levi jeans, found in the Empire Mine at Tombstone, Arizona, next to the Toughnut Mine. The jeans gaveled for $625.
Also sold on Day 1 was a pair of trays, one for Old Judge Whiskey (Rothenberg Co.) and one for Wieland’s Beer (both San Francisco), which were sold as one lot for $625; and a Wells Fargo & Company receipt for a shipment of two boxes of gold dust valued at $6,794, transported in 1869 from Helena, Montana to New York City, handwritten “Paid” and showing no vignette ($562).
Day 2, October 29th, featured Part II of General Americana, with gaming, circus and cowboy collectibles, jewelry, general foreign, books, Montana directories, firearms, militaria and political memorabilia. A top lot was the group of six vintage gaming chips, for Harrah’s (one yellow and one red), Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, Sahara Tahoe, Sahara Las Vegas and the Andre Club ($3,875).
Other Day 2 star lots included a collection of over 165 original hand-tinted Japanese photographs from the Meiji Era (1868-1912), mostly large-format, contained in four albums and three small envelopes ($3,125); and a 1922 hippo-themed circus poster announcing The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, for four days, starting Sept. 11, brightly colored ($1,062).
Day 3, October 30th, was bursting with 661 lots of art and advertising, Native Americana, transportation (air, auto, steamer, railroadiana and passes), ephemera, keys, lamps and model trains. Eager bidders battled over a hollow silver bead necklace with six bear claws capped with silver adornments, plus a central turquoise cabochon set in silver; it changed hands for $1,562.
The day’s top lot, however, was a Union Pacific Railroad complimentary pass (#1), issued to General A. W. Marley on Dec. 31, 1871, with a vignette of a stag in the upper left-hand corner ($5,125). Also sold was an art print engraving by Arthur Willmore of Yosemite from an original artwork on paper by the renowned American West artist Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) ($750).
Day 4, November 1st, included mining ephemera and collectibles, stocks and bonds (mining, oil, railroad, autographs, early American and Express), and numismatics (ingots, currency, scrip, ephemera, coins, medals, so-called dollars and tokens). An 1898-S $20 Liberty Head gold piece belt buckle and Western belt, by Silver Creek Collection, accented with lizard skin, hit $2,500.
Two Day 4 lots both finished with identical selling prices of $3,125. One was a 1947 50-peso Mexican gold coin with 14 carat bezel, the coin being in almost uncirculated condition. The other was a stock certificate in the amount of one share, for the Silverton Northern Railroad Company, issued to Cora M. Pitcher on Oct. 24, 1921, signed by company president Otto Mears.
Day 5, Monday, November 1st, offered philatelic (postcards, covers and stamps), and bargains and dealer specials (general Americana, stocks and bonds, and numismatics). Bags of nickels proved irresistible to bidders: a bag of 4,000 Buffalo nickels (1913-1938), weighing 43 pounds, went for $3,250, while a bag of 4,060 Liberty nickels (1883-1912), 41 pounds, brought $3,000.
Also sold on Day 5 was a collection of over 100 vintage postcards from the Trinity County (Calif.) town of Weaverville, from the 1940s-1950s and older, many of the Chinese Joss House ($1,000); and a group of five wooden tokens for the Pike Woolen Co., tailors (Oakland, Calif.), the obverse showing a Childs Indian Head and stars, the obverse “Pike Woolen Co.” ($938).
Online bidding was facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and Auctionzip.com. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, visit www.holabirdamericana.com. Updates are posted often.